Japanese ambassador Atsushi Ueno expressed his commitment to fostering information exchange with the Japanese public regarding Cambodia’s current progress.

He highlighted the emergence of high-rise buildings, Japanese restaurants and luxury cars in Cambodia, a stark departure from the historical backdrop marked by a genocidal regime.

Ueno conveyed these sentiments during a roundtable discussion on Cambodia-Japan relations, hosted by the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) on September 26 in Phnom Penh.

He further noted that through this information exchange, the Cambodian people have gained familiarity with Japan, extending support to Japanese products and cuisine.

However, he underscored that the Japanese public still lacks comprehensive knowledge of modern Cambodia. For instance, they remain unfamiliar with the nation’s tourist attractions, including the renowned Angkor Wat, other scenic destinations and national parks.

“Cambodia is known, but the image of Cambodia, particularly concerning places like Angkor Wat and national parks, often gets overshadowed by memories of Pol Pot. Therefore, as an ambassador, I am dedicated to ensuring that the Japanese people are well-informed about contemporary Cambodia,” he stated.

He mentioned encountering numerous Japanese individuals who expressed admiration for Cambodia’s development, beauty, and the presence of tourist attractions, high-rise buildings, luxury cars and Japanese restaurants.

He also noted that this image remains relatively underrepresented. He emphasised his commitment to sharing these aspects of present-day Cambodia to the Japanese audience and urged Cambodia to reciprocate by acquainting the Japanese people with the situation in the country.

The ambassador also highlighted the existence of a journalism study tour programme between the two nations, allowing Cambodian journalists to visit Japan and vice versa.

Although participation numbers are not high, he underscored the programme’s significance in fostering bilateral relations.

He added that UNESCO’s recent inscription of the Koh Ker archaeological site on the World Heritage List will enhance Cambodia’s recognition among foreigners and bolster its appeal to tourists.

He also acknowledged the absence of direct flights from Japan to Cambodia and the time-consuming nature of domestic travel, especially to Preah Vihear.

He stated that the availability of transportation, hotels, delectable cuisine and quality accommodation near World Heritage sites could facilitate the attraction of foreign visitors.

He also noted that many Japanese tourists remain unaware of these offerings. He emphasised the need for Cambodia to intensify efforts in promoting its cuisine, coupled with its rich cultural arts, to garner greater attention.

“Japan is open to collaborating in the promotion of tourism, but Cambodia must also put in considerable effort. The Japanese government has established a dedicated travel agency, similar to the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism, and we have taken steps to engage representatives from travel agencies in significant countries with the aim of enticing tourists,” he explained.